Data, Methods, Ethics

Note: This project is comprised of archival data from various communities and subcommunities around the internet. In cases in which quotes come from conversations in which I played no part I am simply quoting without using user names, as informed consent cannot be obtained. In cases in which I pose questions  directly to communities the procedure is the same but I have informed the community that their responses might be quoted without the use of their user names. I data I chose versus the data I excluded depended entirely on relevance. There are a wide variety of urban legends, and I had to only include data either directly or tangentially related to the Slender Man and the themes behind the story. Since my subject is to a certain degree unique, I have also taken the liberty of providing a logical bridge between different deposits of data. These have been written by myself and I have done my utmost to keep them unbiased and I have also written them in bold font. For analysis of this data, please refer yourself to the “analysis” page of this site.

When asking what kind of influence which the Slender Man has had on the internet I first felt it necessary to look into the origin of the story and exactly when its influence bled beyond the confines of its creators. I know that the origin of the Slender Man story comes from “somethingawful.com,” and therefore the following graph is an excellent starting point to understanding the Slender Man story. The following data is from “Google Trends”:

When collecting data regarding the expanding influence of the Slender Man, I decided to refer  to what he represents as the “Boogeyman” in the interest of getting data more relevant to the kind of urban legend I am discussing. The following are the responses from Reddit to the question “what is the Boogeyman” to you?

“I watched The Nutcracker animated movie when I was about six and for a year I was convinced that the evil mice from it where crawling along my floor to stab me with their little swords!”

“I used to have a recurring nightmare that someone was going to break into my house at night, and try to kill my family. He would torture my mom and cut off her leg. So I would always be afraid someone was in my closet or under my bed ready to do that.”

“I imagined the possibility of a sniper in my neighborhood who would try to kill me. That’s why when I took out the garbage at night I always ran and also I slept with my head at the wall.”

“We had a string of stuffed animals hanging from the ceiling in the corner of our bedroom. The nightlight made its shadow on the wall. I was convinced that the shadow was a monster and would eat me while I was sleeping.”

“Who ever was under my bed that would kill me if I let any body part out of the blankets and off the side of the bed, other than my face. I don’t like to breathe hot air.”

“A man who wanted to kidnap me …. (father was a prison guard so I heard stories about all these bad people and that formed my boogeyman)”

The next step in researching was asking exactly how the Slender Man falls in line with these kinds of innate fears that people harbor and remember. I asked a subdivision of Reddit known as “r_slenderman” in the form of a “self” post what makes aspects of the Slender Man make him unique enough to be memorable. I only received a handful of responses, the following was regarded by the community as the most viable in the form of “upvotes,” a voting system which ranked the comment far above the others:

“Basically, everything about the Slender Man that is considered “canon” is made up from looking at the early pictures, and the early ARG series, like Marble Hornets, EverymanHybrid, etc. Each has their own spin but they each share some common things like video distortion. I think one of the main things about the Slender Man that make him scary is the concept of The Uncanny Valley.

“If something that is clearly not human is given human qualities, we find those qualities endearing. But give it too many human characteristics, and it starts looking like an imperfect simulation, which we find kind of disquieting or even revolting… We know what a human looks like, we see them every day. So when something is off, we know it, and it’s unsettling.”

It is the Uncanny. It is something that is close to human, but is deeply wrong. Also the fact that he just stands there. I know certain series have him move, but I find the frozen figure just insanely creepy. Think of SCP-173. It’s way scarier that it’s not moving, not talking, it’s just there. Watching. It has become an urban legend because of the Internet’s love of creepy pictures. They love to revel in the Other and the Uncanny, because they are creepy as hell.”

To test this assertion I gathered a great deal of archival data regarding Slender Man “stories” or “experiences” to see if this is essentially the centerpiece of the Slender Man’s influence (all responses are from “r/slender_man” on Reddit and responses are numbered in bold):

1. “One night, I’m on my computer, searching up scary stories on /r/slender_man, when I decide to go to bed. I get in bed, but have trouble falling asleep and am up until midnight. Opened my eyes, and screamed. Slendy was standing in the shadows, watching me! After falling out of bed, hitting my head and cursing loudly, I turn on the light, and start laughing. It wasn’t slenderman. I bought a signed Jason Voorhees mask at comic con and hung it on my wall, directly above my black robe, making it look exactly like slenderman. I laughed for a few minutes, but then my dad came in and started yelling for waking up the entire house at 12:30. Even though my dad busted me, I feel like I dodged a bullet this time. Even so, I’m still keeping an eye out for Him.”

2. “I don’t remember the last time I posted… But I know its been a long time coming. I have been doing some investigating and found some things that may be of interest to you all. For the past 2 weeks or so I have been trying to piece together the missing month I have in my memory. I have been going through everything I own to find things that may trigger a memory. I found two things. Both of them names. While looking through my iPhone, I opened up Skype on a hunch. And it paid off. I found the name of a fellow redditor we all know very well. Biohazzardbunny. Seeing the name made something else click in my head. I remembered the username Nirvanainchains. Now I don’t know for certain if that username is mine or someone else’s but at least I have that name.

I then checked my iPod and found a note in the note taker app.

No one believes me… I feel alone. I know that there is something out there watching me… Even the people on no sleep don’t think its him. Maybe they are right… Maybe I am going crazy… But I am so close to working this out… I know I can do it! Just need more time…

The only conclusion I can make is that I thought that there was something following me and i must have been close to discovering its true nature. And I also mention no sleep. What was I posting there? And why don’t remember posting? I’m currently writing this 600 km away from my home. I had to get away for two reasons.

  1. I keep seeing the masked people. Yes people. There are three. One red, one blue and one plain. Its like they are waiting for something.
  2. I just wanted to get away from it all.

So now you have the memories and masks. now what did I mean by tapes? My band is filming a music video in a few weeks time! I’m pretty excited, though I am nervous about our faceless friend and his masked minions showing up… But I am still pumped.”

3. “so i wrecked my car. i don’t remember how but i know i saw something. I’m a medium so i see a lot of, things. but this wasn’t like anything i have seen before. i never really believed in slender man, i thought it was kind of a silly thing to. But i think i might have saw him before i wrecked. it had long arms and no face. i don’t know if this has anything to do with slender man but i keep trying to post a picture of my car and it wont load or it some how deletes it self from my page? the reason i wanted to upload it is because there is a hand print that’s, almost like its burned it to the paint. also, I should have died, the doctors thought i at least broke my neck or back, but some how i walked away. I’m not sure what i saw or how the hand print got there, or even why the picture wont load but can y’all help me out? like i said before I’m a medium and i see a lot of messed up things but this freaked me out. I’m not used to being freaked out.”

4. “I know what you are probably thinking. “this is just another idiot on the Internet making up scary fictional stories” but that’s where you are wrong. This was a real experience and I still get chills down my spine recalling this. It all started with one of my friends from school told me about the slender man. He shared legends, videos and a whole lot of creepy pastas. I was skeptic of the whole thing and never got scared easily by such stories. Although that’s what led me to let my guards down. That same night my friend told me of this slender man bull crap, I went and looked up some facts on it and began research. I wish I never would’ve done that, for it brought the most terror to me in a lifetime, which was soon to come. I quickly learned all that was needed to know about the slender man. My mind was racing with facts and new found knowledge. Learning about the slender man became a small passion for me. Stories and photos intrigued me, almost like fuel to a fire. I soon began losing interest in the stories of him. I found my mind constantly bringing it up at random times though. One time in particular was my downfall though.

My father and I decided to go out quading late one night. Living up north in Canada, night came around 7:30 during the winter. We were driving through a wooded area having a merry time, when I felt a cold spike through my body. My vision blurred and I had to pull over into an old campsite, which seemed abandoned. My dad opened up and beer and started sipping on it. My head ached and I felt sick. I thought maybe taking a walk around the area would maybe make it better. I wish I never would’ve done that though. There was one large tree in particular at this campsite, that was about 30ft tall. I went and approached it, feeling my way through the darkness as there were no lights. I stopped behind the tree and sat, out of view of my father.I looked around the trunk to see my dad, he was enjoying his beer. I turned back around into the black nothingness, or so I thought. That’s where I saw something, that no one deserves to see. Him…. Mere feet from me.

My body froze and I was immobile. I just stood there, watching forward into the empty face of my nightmares. It looked as though a long black robe curled down his tall, tree like figure, curling at the ends. Two long arms spanned of both sides, in an inhumane way, almost robotic. Blackness. If I had to describe him, I would say blackness, for that was all he was. I felt the grip of him around me, even though I stood untouched. I felt as though a was a dead man. When I heard a voice call out to me. My dad… It was my dad calling out. I tried calling back out, but no sound escaped. Tears streamed down my face, from mixed emotions bombarding me. Needless to say, my father soon found me, and saw me standing white faced and crying. He quickly brought me back to the quads parked in the campsite and checked if I was alright. I tried to explain to my dad about Him…. Alas he did not believe me. I hope at least one person will believe and know that I am not lying and just begging for attention, because honestly, this did happen and I still remember it clear as day. Or should I say dark as Him.”

5.

As of today, I, [user name omitted], shall be resigning from /r/Slender_Man. It’s been a long and jarring journey and what I thought was a slow decent into madness. I was wrong. I was never mad, nor did I have any reason to doubt what I already believed. The Operator was merely a demon that manifested itself to me in the form of a creature that frightened me. I have absolved myself of this affliction and am ready to move on with my life.

Now before I go, I shall regale you with how I at last came to banish the creature plaguing me and how my condition consequently and instantaneously improved. Roughly three weeks back, I had yet another close encounter. This time, he appeared to me in my room. That was out of character for him, and naturally put me in a momentary state of panic. It was the same as it had always been. Massive headache and choking atmosphere… This time, however, I did not allow my fear to take full control of my actions. He had taken up a post near my window, to the right of the head of my bed, where I could have thrown something in a straight line and struck him from where I stood in my threshold. I was lucky that nobody else was home at the moment to bare witness to what I did. It would have looked foolish… To my right was my desk, and upon it was my valued King James Bible… I’ve had this Bible as long as I can remember, so it wasn’t exactly in the best condition, but I knew it would work. Recalling some advice my pastor gave me a long time ago on the exorcism of devils (he had exorcized a few people before, so I knew I could trust his words) I took up that old Bible and simply held it in my grip at my side. My pastor had told me that there is no super special prayer that cast demons away, but instead to simply evoke the name of Jesus. I did just this, uttering the name a single time. Instantly, my headache vanished and I felt as though I could breathe again. I then took a step forward and said this: “You will never come to this place again. The Lord, Jesus Christ dwells here,” and with that, the visage of the Slender Man was gone. Still, I thought one final statement was called for and finished my sentence with “There’s no room for you here.”

Sounds made up, I know. But that’s what happened. In any case, I know I can rest easy now, knowing that the creature popularized by the Something Awful contest does not in fact exist, but it is instead the image a demon took up to gain entrance into my mind. Entrance which I myself allowed. Now, it’s all over. The Slender Man is gone from my life and he’ll never ever return. From here on in, if I ever make a post to this tread, it shall be art of a work of fictional writing. Goodbye, /r/Slender_Man. I hope those of you still suffering from the grip of whatever creature is plaguing you will soon be free of it the way I am. I will do what I can to help those individuals, but I will admit, most (if not all) of my advice will be spiritual, just as it’s always been.

6. WHAT IN THE WORLD DID I SEE?!?!?! I kid you not, I was up at around 3 ‘o clock on Friday morning, when my dog, Grunt, starts barking outside. I look outside to see a figure standing near the woods. It wasn’t Mr. Stretch. It wasn’t the Other Slender Man, either. This thing was shorter, almost my height. It started running, and I realized what it was. A human, in a hood, with what looked like a mask on it. as soon as I saw what it was, I knew it was the same person who had sneaked into my house, was scared off by Mr. Stretch, and had left that box. I immediately got up, grabbed the crowbar from my beside my back door, and took off after it. I saw It turn around, see me, and take off. We were in a chase. It kept running for about five minutes, until It reached our town’s ballpark. There, It went as fast as I’ve ever seen a person run, to the middle of the football field. That’s when things went wrong. In the middle of that field stood the Other Slender Man, but he wasn’t alone. There was two more Slender Men. Standing in front of each Slender Man, was a Human. They all had some sort of mask on. One had an old WW1 gas mask, while the other just had a simple Hockey Mask. The human that had a hood on, ran towards the Other Slender Man, and faced the other humans. They stood there, and stared at each other. At least, that’s what it looked like. Then, the Gas-Masked human just ran up, and started to choke the Hooded one. The Hood fell off, and i saw what looked like a mouth-less Balaclava, with swimming goggles underneath. It threw the gas-masked human off, and proceeded to charge the Hockey-Masked one, who jumped, not lying here, almost five feet straight up. What freaked me out more than that though, was his shadow. No matter how far away from it’s Slender Man it got, it’s shadow always stayed connected to the feet of that Slender Man. I noticed the same thing from the other Slender Men, and the humans. That’s when it hit me. Proxies. I was Watching a battle between the Slender Men. They were using their proxies as weapons. That’s when the shadow started to cover me. I turned around to see ANOTHER SLENDER MAN!! I instantly felt a sense of calm, and noticed something. It was Mr. Stretch. I instantly saw what looked like tendrils stretch across the ground to me. They were only shadows, but the minute the connected with my feet, I felt like I was being electrocuted. every inch of my body was singing with energy. I felt both hot, cold and electrified. I almost went to fight the proxies, but instead, I heard a voice. It was almost like an impulse more than a voice. Run. Leave. Get away from there. I immediately dropped the crowbar, and ran. I ran faster than I’ve ever ran before. I felt like someone had changed my battery. I never felt so powerful. That’s why the proxies were so fast and so strong. The Slender Man fed energy into a Proxy, so that they could do more than a regular human. that’s when i was tackled. it was the gas-masked one. It started to choke me. It was like someone had taken a vice, and had hooked up the crank to a motor. I felt blood vessels pop, my body feel heavy, and my ears started to ring. No matter how hard I struggled, I couldn’t break free. I blacked out, only to wake up not fifteen minutes ago. I looked at the clock, saw it was almost nine, and thought it was all a dream, until I looked out the window. Pitch Black. It was night. I looked around, and found my Phone on my dresser, charging. I had seen the fight at around 3:10 Friday morning. It’s now Monday. Almost THREE DAYS LATER! This is insane. My sister claims i had been sleeping all day Saturday, locked myself in my room all of Sunday, and came out to get some bread, water, and an apple this morning, but didn’t respond when she tried to talk to me. After assuring her I wasn’t depressed, high, or drunk, I came back upstairs, and saw my computer wasn’t booting up properly. I opened it up to see the belt was ripped out of the motherboard, and the Slave hard drive missing. Also, it won’t boot up. It goes through the bios, then just goes to a black screen. This is all being typed from my iPod. I don’t know how else to explain what happened other than some kind of Fight. This is becoming insane. Mr. Stretch has never done anything like that before, but then again, I’ve never had a hostile Slender Man attacking me. He really did try to protect me. In a way, he reminds me of someone I knew when I was younger, but I don’t remember. Whatever the case, I’m definitely staying awake at night, and staying asleep during the day. I don’t know what this fight between these Slender Men is about, but if I’m being dragged into it, then I’m going to find out why, and why Mr. Stretch doesn’t want me involved

7. I’ve known who Slender Man is all my life. My adoptive dad told me stories about him when I was a girl, and I’ve seen him before, but this… I can’t even comprehend what the fuck just happened. I’d been redditing for about two hours when I come across /r/slenderman. I NEVER knew this existed, and I’ve been a redditor for about 9 months now. I decide to image search “Slender Man” on Yahoo to see how artists percieve him and pictures of him, etc. When suddenly, a window pops up on my screen. “SPYWARE HAS DETECTED A VIRUS, SHUT COMPUTER OFF NOW.” I tried to force a shutdown but it didn’t work. I’m about to take the battery off the back when I glance at my screen. My computer was in the position of a sideways capital L, and I noticed my screen had went completely black. “Oh, good, it’s shutting down.” I thought, so I flipped it back up and what happened next…Fuck, I can’t even believe it. I don’t expect anyone else to. I looked at the screen, and in tiny white letters, I see “i see you raven.” I don’t remember running outside where my grandparents were at the time and shouting at them that “Mr. Red Tie” was back, nor do I remember telling my grandparents that I could see him in our pasture. The last time I looked at the time on my computer,(a few minutes before the “virus”) it was 7:21PM. It is now 9:09PM, and I have a little over an hour and 40 minutes that I cannot remember at all.

8. Okay, so, me and my cousin Garett were over at his house watching movies a couple of days ago. We got bored at around 3:00 A.M. I told him about a cabin that I came across when my friend Eric came to visit. We decided to visit, and on our way there, I saw him, good ol’ Slendy. He was standing in the middle of the path we were walking on and we hauled ass out of the woods. When we came back, I was having sight problems and Garett couldn’t comprehend what I was saying. I blacked out after that.

9. I was wrong… Very wrong. Today upon a trip to the abandoned school, I rediscovered how I know so little about slenderman. I saw the truck belonging to that old man who hates when I attempt exploring in there and has actually caught me once. So I decided to play it safe, I climbed into the school through a second story window after climbing up the gutter on the side wall. Walking as quietly as possible and remaining close to the ground, I started searching areas I had yet to search. This led me to the roof. Nightmares, nightmares made real and much worse. What I found on the roof today has uprooted all my previous theories… Upon looking at the roof I saw more than 5 different slendermen all fighting each other. I think they were sparring or something though because they had separated into pairs before fighting each other. Before I left, I remembered someone had suggested that different slendermen had different color ties. So I checked to see if they had different ties, they did. After that one of them spotted me. Time to go. As I ran away I could feel them chasing me. It was the strongest vibe I have ever felt. It almost caused me to trip and fall at first. I got away by jumping out of the window I used earlier. I did a turn vault to cat and once in a cat I pushed off of the wall and slammed the window shut on my way down. I’m going to lay low for a while, I will let you guys know if anything new happens.

10. Yet it may have come with a price. I have become extremely paranoid about everything. Small things such as my parents finding out bad things about me, scared because i got called to the office when really it was just to change my class schedule for next year, to even walking through the main streets after school rather than taking shortcuts through downtown. It has gotten so bad that when my parents are whispering i walk by just to make sure it aint something they know about me. Just an hour ago it was a little windy. I left my windows open but i leave the nets up so we dont get bugs in the house. I was watching tv all alone when i hear something rough rub onto the nets on my windows. I looked outside but saw nothing, i ignored thinking it was the wind. I continued watching American Dad when i heard something stomp on the doorstep. I leaned a little bit off my couch to see what it was. Through the window of my door i saw a tall man. It just staired at me. Nothing else. I didnt see any details cause my vision is horrible from where i was at. But instead of getting up and hiding in room or opening the door with my broom in my hand, i just staired at it. I could barely feel my heart beat, but when it did, it was a huge thump along with a massive weight on my stomach. My feet felt light, then i couldnt feel them at all. My eyes just stayed wide open at the figure. I took a deep breath and it was gone. I quickly shut windows and ran two blocks to my aunts house. Thats where i am now and currently spending the night.

11. As children, my twin brother Michael and I were inseparable. We did everything together; we had the same interests, the same hobbies, even the same friends. But one summer, when we were nine, Michael went away to camp while I visited a friend. When we returned, there was something different about him. At first I chalked it up to the time apart, but then the incidents started. One night I woke up to find my brother standing at the window, looking out into the darkness as if searching for something that simply wasn’t there.  “What’s wrong, Mike?” I asked. “The trees … the trees woke me up.” He didn’t say anything else, and I eventually fell back to sleep. Something wasn’t right, though. We lived in a suburban neighborhood; other than a few cherry blossoms, there were no trees in sight. Michael continued acting weird the rest of the summer. When I told my worries to my parents, they brushed it off as the two of us just growing apart. Then the week before school started, our dog ran away. It was a very stressful time for me, and even my parents couldn’t help but notice Michael’s apparent indifference about our missing pet. “You’re not going to find him, Stephen,” my brother told me plainly. “The trees took him away.” That was the second time he had mentioned those damned trees. The same week “the trees” took our dog, I went snooping through Michael’s notebooks and found the drawings. Michael was constantly sketching, but he often got angry and trashed his work before finishing it. One piece in particular hung on our refrigerator. I remember it very clearly, because I was in it. The drawing depicted the two of us standing in front of our house, with our dog sitting beside us. My mother loved this picture, and it hung on the fridge for years, even after Michael disappeared. But the drawing I found in Michael’s notebook was different. It was identical to the famed fridge art, except for a third figure, standing beside Michael and me. This person was unnaturally tall and thin, and there was an uncomfortably inhuman quality to him. When I asked Michael about it, he freaked out. “Where did you get this?” he demanded.

“It was in your notebook. I was looking for ….” I didn’t have an excuse. Hopefully my brother would understand my concern. “You shouldn’t have looked at this.” He tried to snatch the drawing away, but I backed up. “Michael, who is this man?” “What do you mean?” he asked. I got the feeling my brother genuinely didn’t know what I was talking about. “Right here! Who is that standing beside us?” “Stephen, that’s the trees.” Michael’s confusing behavior continued during school, but no one seemed to be bothered by it except me. By the time summer rolled around again, I was excited because this year I would be going to camp while Stephen visited a friend. Camp was relatively uneventful, until one evening. We were telling ghost stories around the fire, and everyone was taking turns scaring each other. Tyler, who was a year or two older, held the attention of our entire cabin with his story. “Three years ago, at this very camp, there was a string of unsolved murders. Five campers were found dead, each from a different cause. One boy drowned, one starved, one choked, and another had a seizure. But the scariest death was a boy who had been impaled on a tree branch. His body wasn’t found for three weeks, but there was no mistaking it.” Trees. That got my attention.

“The police never could find a culprit, so they chalked the deaths up to freak accidents and moved on. But a few of us know the truth, and every year we pass it down. They were all killed by a being we call the Pale Man. We don’t know if he’s a man, a monster, or something in between. But we know he only goes after kids who know about his existence. So try and get a good night’s sleep, and don’t wander into the woods at night.” I didn’t sleep at all that night, but sat awake in my bed waiting for something to happen. Once or twice I could have sworn a man in a suit passed by the cabin, but when I jumped up to look, there was no one. Of course, I was just being paranoid, and by sunrise no one had been murdered or even hurt. Tyler’s story was meant to scare me, nothing more. I enjoyed the rest of summer camp, but I was looking forward to seeing my brother again. One morning I was called to the camp’s office, only to find my parents there waiting for me. I was confused, since I still had two weeks. My mother was in tears, and my father looked like he had been hit by a freight train. Somehow, I knew what they were going to tell me before they found the words. Michael had gone missing while in Colorado with his friend. Needless to say, I was devastated. I returned home, and as time passed, I adjusted to being an only twin. I guess it’s true what they say, time heals all wounds. I’m only finally talking about this now because I was looking at newspaper articles around the time and place of Michael’s disappearance, and I found a story that stood out from the rest. Three weeks after my brother’s alleged disappearance, the innards of what appeared to be a dead animal had been found in a tree

 

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